×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscars Open to Kevin Hart Return – If Comedian Says the Word (EXCLUSIVE)

Key parties involved in the annual Oscars telecast are open to the return of Kevin Hart as host, one insider close to the event told Variety, following an alternately contrite and defiant appearance on “The Ellen Show” on Thursday.

Leadership at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC, the network that broadcasts the telecast, are open to Hart resuming his role as emcee if he signals that he wants the job. That message could come through a spokesperson or on social media, where Hart maintains an active presence on Instagram and Twitter, the individual added.

The about face is extraordinary because Hart’s appointment as host stirred up so much controversy. Past homophobic jokes that Hart had made resurfaced on Twitter and other social media platforms within hours of the announcement that he would emcee the broadcast. The comic was initially dismissive, saying he had previously addressed those remarks. He later offered a more full-throated apology after announcing he was declining the Academy’s offer. In the ensuing weeks, Oscar producers have struggled to find a replacement.

The Academy hoped Hart would have a meaningful conversation about his past tweets in the aftermath of his December exit, another insider close to the show’s well-documented troubles said. It’s unclear if Hart’s apologies on “Ellen” were sufficient, and if he demonstrated an understanding of the effect of his old tweets.  While Hart still sits atop a wish list of marquee hosts within the Academy, show producer Donna Gigliotti and her team have been working “non-stop” on living without him, the insider said. This includes options like a cameo-heavy, hostless show, which Variety exclusively reported last month.

Momentum built for Hart’s return on Thursday after both the network and the wider Academy leadership were made aware of a conversation between the comedian and DeGeneres in which she urged the comic to reconsider his decision to step down and stressed that his past homophobic comments were not representative of a man she called a friend. For his part, Hart said that the criticism was being driven by trolls who wanted to destroy his career.

“This was to destroy me,” he said. “This was to end all partnerships, all brand relationships, all investment opportunities, studio relationships, my production company and the people that work underneath me. This was to damage the lives that have been invested in me.”

Hart once again apologized for any hurt that he had caused with his remarks, adding “I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body.”

An ABC insider, however, emphasized to Variety that the Academy is responsible for negotiating with and securing an Oscars host — a process for which the network serves as an advisor. The same source said that ABC had no knowledge of whether direct conversations had yet taken place between the Academy and Hart.

Spokespeople for the Academy and ABC had no comment. A representative for Hart did not return Variety‘s request for comment.

As far as Hart is concerned, the comedian said he’s “evaluating” DeGeneres’ lengthy plea for him to take the stage on Hollywood’s big night.

“What we’re going to get to see on stage with you hosting the Oscars is sophistication, class, hilarity and you growing as a person,” DeGeneres told Hart. “Because most people would say, ‘I’m walking away … ’ For you to be the bigger man, for you to say I understand …and to not pay attention. There are so many haters out there.”

DeGeneres also detailed her conversation with an unnamed person or persons from the Academy — an organization the daytime queen said was emphatic to see him come back.

“We want him to host, we feel like maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong, or maybe we said the wrong thing,” DeGeneres said, quoting the Academy. “But we want him to host. Whatever we can do, we want him to host.”

One of the individuals with knowledge of the Academy disputed the apologetic tone that DeGeneres conveyed, saying the comments were taken out of context.

Oscar producers need to a make a decision on a host, or announce a major reinvention, with less than two months to the finish line. After all, one of the host’s primary duties is to hype the show. This week, telecast producer Gigliotti cut promos for the Feb. 24 telecast without an emcee encouraging viewers to tune in.

Listen to Kevin Hart’s exclusive interview with Variety:

More Film

  • AMC theater

    AMC Stubs A-List Becomes No. 1 Movie Subscription Service

    AMC Theatres’ Stubs A-List program, which allows customers to see three movies a week for $19.95 a month, has hit 800,000 subscribers. That figure is well ahead of the original projection, announced last June, for 500,000 subscribers by the end of its first year. According to AMC, the program is now the No. 1 moviegoing [...]

  • Millie Bobby Brown on Her Feature

    Millie Bobby Brown Calls Her Film Debut in 'Godzilla' 'Kind of Unreal'

    Millie Bobby Brown is no stranger to stardom thanks to “Stranger Things,” but she still can’t believe she’s making her feature film debut in the monster reboot “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” “It’s kind of unreal,” Brown told Variety at the premiere. “I’m like, ‘What is happening right now?’ It’s so bizarre and unreal, and [...]

  • Dakota Johnson Tracee Ellis Ross

    Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross Co-Starring in Comedy 'Covers'

    Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross will co-star in “Covers,” a comedy set in the music scene in Hollywood. “Late Night” director Nisha Ganatra is helming from a screenplay by Flora Greeson. Focus Features is partnering with Working Title Films on the movie. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will produce with Alexandra Loewy [...]

  • Sony Interactive Launches Film, TV Studio

    Sony Interactive Launches Film, TV Studio to Adapt Video Game Projects

    Sony Interactive recently launched PlayStation Productions, a studio tasked with adapting the company’s video game properties into films and television shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter. PlayStation Productions is headed by Asad Qizilbash and overseen by SIE chairman of Worldwide Studios Shawn Layden. It’s reportedly already working on its first slate of projects on the [...]

  • Breaking Glass Takes U.S. on Female

    Breaking Glass Takes U.S. on Mexican Female Empowerment Pic 'Tatoo of Revenge' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Philadelphia-based indie distributor Breaking Glass Pictures has acquired North American rights to Mexican director Julian Hernandez’s female empowerment thriller “Tattoo of Revenge” in a deal closed with Italy-based company The Open Reel at the Cannes film market. “Tatoo” is the latest feature by the prolific Hernandez who is known on the festival circuit for films [...]

  • Thierry Fremaux Cannes

    Thierry Fremaux Says 'Cannes Will Always Side With Artists' at Alain Delon's Tribute

    Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of the Cannes Film Festival, delivered a heartfelt homage to Alain Delon at a ceremony on Sunday during which the French actor received the honorary Palme d’Or. Alluding to the controversy that Delon has triggered with his past declarations, Fremaux said the actor was entitled to have his own convictions [...]

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt's '7500' Sells to Amazon

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Thriller '7500' Sells to Amazon Studios

    Amazon Studios has acquired global rights to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s terrorist drama “7500.” The deal, announced Monday at the Cannes Film Festival, excludes Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Universum will distribute the film in Germany. In “7500,” Gordon-Levitt plays the co-pilot of a plane that has been hijacked by terrorists. The title references the code 7500, which [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content